Since my election to Dáil Éireann in 2016, I have been passionate every single day about representing the people of Louth and Coastal Meath. I’ve been a life long community activist, and for the 25 years before my election to the Dáil, I had worked relentlessly on Louth County Council to improve the lives of everyone in our community.
I believe that I have the experience, the commitment and the fundamental understanding of the issues and challenges facing this area to continue to represent you at a national level.
To continue this work, I need your number one vote. Please consider continuing your preference for my colleague, Cllr James Byrne.
If you should need to contact me at any stage, you will find my details below. I’m always happy to help in any way that I can.
Declan Breathnach, T.D.
My Priorities for Louth & Coastal Meath
Rural Ireland & Agriculture
As an active farmer from a young age I am all too aware of the difficulties facing farmers in Louth. These difficulties have been compounded this year by delays in farm payments. I have raised this matter in the Dáil on numerous occasions through Topical Issue Debates and Parliamentary Questions.
I want to continue focussing on the agri-food sector in Louth. I supported the beef farmers in their recent actions to achieve fair pricing and transparency in the industry.
I will continue to pursue the provision of good quality broadband to rural regions and increased LEADER funding to develop rural communities to make them attractive places to live.
Mental Health & Drug Treatment
There is a serious and on-going drug addiction problem in Drogheda and other regions in County Louth, which is having knock-on effects in increased crime.
There are serious and significant problems being experienced by community drugs services who are suffering a crisis in funding and confidence which needs to be addressed by the Minister for Health.
Access to Mental Health Services is shameful with huge waiting lists for both child and adult services and I want to continue to strive to reverse this trend.
Fianna Fáil are committed to improving access to mental health services.
Business, Enterprise & Employment
Ireland’s economy is grounded in small and medium sized indigenous business. For every person employed by an SME, there is an immediate gain to the exchequer and one less person on the live register.
I am also committed to supporting Fianna Fáil’s policy on banning zero and low hour type contracts that are abusive towards workers. We have consistently advocated our policy for the provision of banded hour contracts that work for both worker and employer in a balanced and proportionate way.
I welcomed new investment in job creation in the North East and will continue to push the region as an ideal location with access to DKIT graduates and being ideally placed on the M1 Corridor.
I have pursued the issue of insurance for motorists, businesses and the issue of public liability insurance in the Dáil and will continue to do so. The cost of insurance is crippling small businesses across the country in addition to sporting clubs and community organisations.
Fianna Fáil want to urgently tackle the 18 outstanding action points in the Cost of the Insurance Working Group’s Reports on Motor Insurance and Employer and Public Liability Insurance, and to work towards creating a single European market for insurance to better enable businesses to shop around for employer and public liability insurance. Fianna Fail will continue to advance reforms across the insurance industry.
I have contributed to numerous Dáil debates on Brexit and the implications for Ireland.
The Government needs to do more to encourage SME’s to engage with Local Enterprise Offices as uptake of Brexit supports has been low. Up until the end of August 2019, just 11% of the combined €600m Brexit loans funds have been sanctioned for bank lending. This leaves an alarming €533m in unused Brexit loan funds.
I have asked many questions on the Dáil floor regarding EU funding post Brexit and I welcomed the announcement of a €28 million economic stimulus package for the Border region. We seem to have avoided a no-deal Brexit for now but that does not mean Brexit will not severely impact businesses in Louth and other border counties. I will continue to be their voice in Dáil Éireann.
Broadband & Communications
Louth County Council has been very proactive in their approach to provision of high-speed broadband to as many areas as possible but much more needs to be done. I spoke in the Dáil many times and have asked numerous Parliamentary Questions on the spiralling cost of the National Broadband Plan. I also asked about the possibility of using the existing ESB infrastructure, among other possibilities.
Broadband is an essential tool in life now. I have been contacted by numerous constituents who are precluded from working from home, because of lack of broadband which is extremely frustrating. I will continue to pursue this issue and also the problem of roaming mobile phone charges in the border region.
Crime & Safety
I spoke in the Dáil many times on the topic of rural crime and raised Parliamentary Questions on the need for increased Garda numbers for Louth.
While manpower is one matter, there is a need for an enhanced Garda fleet and proper community policing. These services are currently depleted and in some cases are non-existent. I am committed to ensuring that people feel safe in their homes.
Decreased Garda presence provides the opportunity of a free rein for criminals and drug barons. All research has shown that high-visibility community policing engagement is the best deterrent.
It can be argued that Louth could be a standalone division because of its unique position on the island along with the sharp increase in violent crime in Louth.
Housing & Homelessness
Louth had the highest number of people presenting as homeless in the north east region last year. In November there were 127 homeless in Louth, out of a total of 141 across the North East. I have debated this issue in the Dáil many times and will continue to press for change.
Ireland is in the midst of a national housing emergency that threatens home ownership levels for an entire generation locked into unsustainable rent levels.
The extensive use of the HAP scheme, rather than concentrating on building social housing is adding to the homelessness crisis. I am committed to seeking a fundamental re-assessment of the government’s affordability policies to ensure that ordinary income workers can achieve the dream of home ownership. That has to start with a comprehensive Affordable Home scheme across the country.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Louth and across Ireland continues to rise. Household bills, public transport, health insurance bills continue to increase year on year. I will keep fighting for greater investment in Louth to keep costs down.
Rural communities need to have a greater link with town centres and I will fight for greater investment in public transport in Louth.
I will push for more money for energy efficiency grants and to make these accessible to ordinary households.
I believe investment in education is an investment in our future. Louth has been left behind by Fine Gael when it comes to education. Class sizes continue to rise and the number of queries to my office regarding investment in school buildings continues to increase.
School transport continues to be a huge problem with insufficient funding to provide enough capacity on some routes. I spoke in favour of fairness in teachers’ salaries and also better working conditions and contracts for school secretaries.
I will continue to work towards a better system where teachers are adequately resourced, and the number of Special Needs Assistants increased.
I have been very vocal in the in the Dáil about the poor quality of rural roads in Louth and how they are a huge public safety issue. This is about people living on or near rural roads or class three roads. The State has a responsibility to serve people from every part of the Country, yet the people living on third class roads are being treated as third class citizens.
There are currently two schemes for road improvements, the Local Improvement Scheme and the Community Involvement Scheme. Residents should not have to rely on these schemes for safe roads.
I have also supported calls for large infrastructure improvements like the Northern Cross Route and have called for funding to be approved for the Narrow Water Bridge Project.
I will continue to be a strong voice in Dáil Éireann for Louth on these issues.
Climate & Environment
Fianna Fáil recognises that runaway climate change is the defining global challenge of our time. In May 2019, Fianna Fáil ensured that the Dáil declared a climate and biodiversity emergency.
We have supported fully the Microbeads (Prohibition) Bill 2019 and have called for an end to single use plastic cups / cutlery.
I debated many times in the Dáil on environmental issues, including a Topical Issue on pollution of the rivers of Louth (Castletown, Fane, Dee and Boyne rivers) causing severe disease in our fish stock. I will continue to support measures to improve and enhance our environment.
My office deals on a daily basis with issues for constituents relating to healthcare. Hospital waiting lists, access to mental health services and lack of respite care places all high on the agenda.
This Government must get serious on delivering home care supports which would go some way to alleviating the growing problem of delayed discharges. Figures show that 14,941 bed days were lost at Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda last year due to delayed discharges. This figure is the second highest in the country and the highest of any hospital outside of Dublin.
I want to continue to work to develop a health service that supports patient care above structures. My past experience having served on the North Eastern Health Board from 1991 to 2005 has taught me the importance of having a strong publicly funded health service.
As a Primary School Principal with 35 years’ experience, I am very aware of the importance of early childcare and supporting families.
Fianna Fail is appalled by the current state of childcare provision in Ireland, which is ludicrously expensive and in short supply. Childcare is essential to children and parents, and we need to seriously increase state investment and involvement in the sector. The current government’s approach has been to throw money at short-term solutions which have simply pushed up prices for most parents and not increased overall supply in the market.
Insurance costs are a huge issue for childcare providers Fianna Fáil will explore creative solutions like for example, whether it is worth considering that ECCE providers should be able to access coverage from providers like IBP, specialists in the public and semi-state sector.
As vice-Chair of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement I am acutely aware of the issues and the fragility of the peace we have enjoyed for many years now.
The Committee heard how communities along the border both north and south are lagging economically since 2016 in stark contrast to strong economic growth and employment in other parts of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
I would like the opportunity to implement the key recommendations contained in the Report Cross-Border Cooperation: Challenges and Opportunities.
I would like to continue my work and promote the many areas of joint collective interest between North and South.
Ireland has an ageing population, and I will continue to make sure that services in Louth are capable of catering for people as they grow old. Transport services must be adequately equipped for older people to access. Community care should be at the heart of our healthcare strategy for older people.
Fianna Fáil is extremely conscious that most people living with dementia and their families want to have their care at home. We fully support this and believe that we must make sustained and meaningful progress in this.
I want to see an expansion in intensive home care packages for people with dementia and advancing on this remains a key objective, in addition to additional home care packages and home help for older people in general.
The issues and priorities discussed on this web page are far from exhaustive. I, my office, and my party deals with hundreds of issues raised at all levels. If you have concerns that you would like to discuss with me, I am always open to hearing from you. You will find me contact details below.
Countdown to Election Day
7am to 10pm on Saturday, 8th February
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Constituency Office,16 Earl Street,Dundalk, Co Louth
Tel: 042 935 2446